Beware Spoilers For GOTHAM: S3 Below!

Season 3 of GOTHAM did not have the rating success of the previous seasons 1 and 2, but critically, it performed well. In fact, the third season of GOTHAM was the best season by far earning it an 89 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

GOTHAM continues to use its creative storytelling format breaking the season up into two themes. For Season 3 it was GOTHAM: MAD CITY in the first half and GOTHAM: HEROES RISE in the second. Unlike the previous seasons where this formula seemed sloppy, GOTHAM has finally perfected it with great storytelling and character development. The third season was truly a gem, and it gives us something to look forward to in Season 4.

The Riddler And The Penguin: An Epic Feud

A bright spot in Season 3 was the use of Oswald and Nygma. The build up to the all out war between them was fantastic. Actors Robin Taylor is playing The Penguin, and Cory Smith is playing The Riddler, have great chemistry together. Their relationship was cleverly built up to be turned on its head.

The start of their relationship included a one-sided love story where Oswald becomes infatuated with Nygma. Nygma not only helps him win his mayoral election, but he weeds out Butch, who was going to turn on him. Oswald sees the way Nygma looks out for him and relates it to the way his mother treated him. It is the loyalty and mutual understanding of one another that makes Oswald fall in love with Nygma. However, Nygma does not reciprocate Oswald’s love.

The Riddler and The Penguin GOTHAM Season 3
The Riddler and The Penguin

Nygma is thankful that Oswald releases him from Arkham, so he becomes loyal to him. Much of Nygma’s actions toward Oswald are inspired out of loyalty, not love. So when Nygma discovers Oswald kills his girlfriend Isabella, Nygma sees this as a violation of his commitment. That begins their feud and Nygma’s plan to sabotage Oswald’s life. It works well for GOTHAM because the two characters are in a power grab for the king of the underworld in Gotham City.

READ: Want to catch up on GOTHAM: MAD CITY? Read the refresher course!

When Nygma shoots Oswald seemingly killing him in the midseason finale, the tables turn in their growing feud. For a brief moment Nygma becomes The Riddler, and top crime boss, while Oswald is out of the picture. Nygma’s power grab does not last long though, Oswald finally gets the upper hand in the season finale where he freezes Nygma in a block of ice. The Penguin/Riddler feud is entertaining. It set their characters up to become just like their comic book counterparts next season.

GOTHAM’s Other Villains That Are In Need Of Screen Time

The feud between Oswald and Nygma occupied screen time for most of GOTHAM’s villains this season. Fellow villains Butch, Barbra, and Tabitha, get lost in the shuffle with all of the other storylines. Even though they had some part of The Riddler/Penguin feud, it did not do much for their characters.

Any growth they made came in the season finale. Butch’s birth name is revealed when he is shot in the head and comatose. It is a reference to Solomon Grundy in the comics. Barbara turns on Tabitha because of her jealous rage over Tabitha’s relationship with Butch and Barbara is electrocuted. That leaves Tabitha in charge of the Sirens Club and Selina Kyle as her protégée hinting at a GOTHAM CITY SIRENS arc. It is clear that those supporting characters did not get enough screen time. However, the Easter eggs in the season finale give us hope for them next season.

GOTHAM Season 3 supporting characters
Barbara, The Riddler, Tabitha, and Butch holding Penguin hostage

Out of all of GOTHAM’s villains, Jervis Tetch as Mad Hatter was this season’s breakout villain. He was the perfect antagonist for Jim Gordon and the GCPD this season. His antics get into Jim Gordon’s head, and he destroys Jim and Lee’s relationship. Jervis works well as an antagonist tied into Jim’s storyline. The use of his sister’s blood virus also has bigger implications for all of Gotham. Going forward in Season 4 it would be interesting if Jervis and Jerome cross paths since they were both transferred back to Arkham by the finale.

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Speaking of Jerome. Remember when Hugo Strange resurrected Fish Mooney? Just like in Season 2, Jerome’s resurrection this season had the same reaction. A resounding “Oh, okay, that’s nice.” Killing off Jerome the first time was bold, but it was good, it left viewers to ponder the ramifications of his televised rampage. Resurrecting Jerome to do the same thing but with a different outcome was not as effective as the first time. Hopefully, the show will find a better way to use Jerome in Season 4 since he is in Arkham.

Jim Gordon’s Many Storylines

The Jim Gordon character wears a lot of different hats in GOTHAM. He is the one character in the television series that interacts with all of the other characters. So it is not unusual for him to juggle several storylines instead of sticking to one.

In Season 3 he had a storyline with Jervis Tetch, Lee Thompkins, and the GCPD. Even though he was a centerpiece in The Court of Owls plot, it was not as prevalent as the other storylines. With that said, Jim Gordon should have had fewer storylines this season.

Jim’s arc this season starts off with his dilemma with the GCPD. He blames the job for ruining his relationship with Lee. Throughout the first half of the season, Jim is a bounty hunter instead of a cop. It is a decisive choice Jim makes to cope with his emotions and find his moral compass again. This storyline doesn’t last past MAD CITY, but it is an important arc for Jim’s character. He has hallucinations about his father to find his moral compass and decides to join the GCPD again.

Jim Gordon interrogating Jervis Tetch GOTHAM Season 3
Jim Gordon interrogating Jervis Tetch

Jervis Tetch is more prevalent to Jim’s development than the GCPD Angel. Jervis Tetch almost ruined Jim’s life, but he made sure Jim would be responsible for ruining Lee’s life. Unlike the other villains of this season, Tetch exploited Jim’s weakness for Lee. Inserting Jervis Tetch into Lee and Jim’s storyline is brilliantly executed. Whatever went wrong with Jim and Lee’s relationship it can all be traced back to Jervis Tetch trying to destroy Jim Gordon.

At the core of all of Jim Gordon’s storylines is his relationship with Lee Thompkins. Lee the reason Jim does not return to the GCPD. She is also the reason Jervis Tetch can exploit him. After Jim ruined Lee’s life by killing Mario Calvi, Lee turns the tables and tries to get even. Lee spends most of HEROES RISE trying to prove that Jim has a criminal nature and he is more corrupt than he may seem.

This works well in GOTHAM because it portrays Lee as the villain and Jim’s antagonist. The first two storylines were less complex, but Lee becoming his antagonist will sure to have ramifications in Season 4.

A Bigger Picture: The Court Of The Owls

In Season 2, The Court of Owls was heavily teased as Season 3’s big bad group of villains. The Court is in everyone’s storylines from Jim Gordon’s to The Penguin’s. They even control Gotham’s organized crime, politics, law enforcement, and they meddle in the lives of all the characters.

The Court’s ultimate goal is to end crime in Gotham by destroying the city and rebuilding it from scratch. They try to recruit Jim Gordon through his uncle, Frank in an attempt to seize more control of law enforcement. Although Jim reluctantly joins The Court, he is pulled back into working as a lone wolf with moral ambiguity.

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This doesn’t make sense for Jim because he rejoined the GCPD to stop living alone in moral ambiguity. This goes back to the hallucination of his father in “Red Queen” and undoes everything. The way Jim is used with The Court works well for them as the big bad group of villains, but it doesn’t help Jim’s arc.

The Court of Owls speaking to GOTHAM
The Court of Owls speaking to Gotham

The Court being used to mold Bruce Wayne is a good strategy here. Going back to Season 2 their saga helps Bruce’s development giving us a reason to pay closer attention to him. They shut down his investigation into his parents, kidnaps him, and replaces him with his doppelgänger. It look’s like Bruce’s defeated by The Court but there’s a bigger picture here. This is where things get interesting for Bruce.

Replacing Bruce gave the show an opportunity to accelerate his journey to becoming Batman. This allows them to plug in his League of Shadows arc from the comics. Tying in the League of Shadows with The Court of Owls killed two birds with one stone. GOTHAM got to introduce Ra’s al Ghul as Bruce’s next antagonist and kill off The Court. Killing off The Court works because it introduces next season’s big bad villain and it tells us that the League of Shadows is stronger than The Court. Using The Court’s to build up of Bruce Wayne as Batman was subtle but smart.

GOTHAM Season 4 Preview

Minor problems in Season 3 didn’t weigh down GOTHAM too much. A lot of the supporting characters didn’t have a lot of screen time this season. Oswald and Nygma still stole the spotlight even though GOTHAM didn’t go with their romantic relationship. Also despite stretching out Jim Gordon, they managed to keep his plot line consistent with this season’s themes.

Bruce Wayne as the GOTHAM vigilante
Bruce Wayne as the vigilante

Season 3 is an all round gem. The finale resolves some of the issues in Season 3. It also moved the characters to a closer version of their comic book selves. This is evident in, “Heavydirtysoul,” where we get a bunch of easter eggs. We learn Bruce becomes a vigilante when he stops a mugging in an alley. Tabitha gives Selina Kyle her whip, and she is a natural to much of Tabitha’s surprise. The Penguin becomes king of the underworld and decides to open the Ice Lounge to keep Nygma frozen in a block of ice. The finale works well because it closes a chapter in each of the characters lives without using a cliffhanger.

Season 4 is set up to have a lot of stories that are adjacent to the comics. Tabitha and Selina become allies in the finale, so it is likely the GOTHAM CITY SIRENS will debut. Barbra may become GOTHAM’s version of Harley Quinn. Look for Solomon Grundy to make an appearance since Butch’s birth name, Cyrus Gold is Grundy’s true identity. Not to mention an epic clash between Bruce Wayne and Ra’s al Ghul brewing.

If you weren’t sold on GOTHAM, Season 3 is a gem, and Season 4 looks to be it the show’s breakout season. The fourth season of GOTHAM will move to Thursdays 8:00 PM ET/PT on FOX this fall.

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